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Operating a Home-Based Business

Part of starting a business is deciding where to operate it. You can rent an office, a building, or work from your home. Each type of location has its advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to fully research your options and remain flexible.

For example, working out of your home will save you from the expense of renting a space for your business. However, if you plan on having meetings with clients, it might not seem very professional. And depending on other members of your household, it may not always provide the proper working environment. You also need to figure out the necessary licenses and permits and whether or not it's a good idea to purchase home business insurance.

See FindLaw's Starting a Business section for more articles about getting your small business off the ground.

Should You Operate a Home-Based Business? Questions to Consider

Here are some questions to consider when deciding whether or not operating a home-based business is right for you:

  1. Is the business well suited to being operated out of the home?
  2. Am I disciplined enough to work out of my home?
  3. What will my hours be if I work out of my home?
  4. Will I be able to separate my work life from my private life?
  5. Will clients or customers object to coming to my home?
  6. Will suppliers object to bringing products to my home?
  7. Will I need any employees to help run the business?
  8. Is there adequate work space for an employee?
  9. Is there adequate parking for clients, customers, suppliers, and employees?
  10. Are there any zoning restrictions that apply?

Zoning and Other Restrictions

It's important to consider zoning and any other restrictions that could affect having a home-based business. While some county or city zoning laws prohibit operating a business from a home, most jurisdictions allow home-based businesses to some degree (certain limitations and regulations typically apply). For example, there may be a limitation on the number of employees or signage for the business; or there may be a requirement for handicapped parking spots. It's important to check with your county or city's zoning department to make sure you are in compliance with your local zoning laws. Not doing so could lead to problems and disruptions with your business in the long run.

There may also be other restrictions on running a business from your home. Generally, homeowners have control of what they choose to do on their property. But rules and regulations typically are in place to preserve a peaceful neighborhood and prevent conflicts among the neighbors. In addition, if your home is part of a "common interest" development (like a condominium), there can be certain covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) that dictate the types of activities that are permitted and prohibited.

The biggest concern neighbors usually have about a home-based business is the noise and traffic it may bring. There could also be fear of increased robberies, burglaries, and other crimes that may occur with the constant presence of outsiders. Finally, neighbors can also have concerns that having a home business in their neighborhood could negatively affect property values. While all of these fears and concerns are valid, home businesses are usually discreet and often don't involve additional employees or outside traffic. Additionally, covenants that try to restrict unobtrusive home-based businesses may fail because it they could be considered as unjustified restrictions on the right to be gainfully employed.

Getting Legal Help

When starting a business -- whether you will be working from home or from an office -- it's important to comply will all the relevant laws and regulations. If you would like help starting your business and plan on running it from your home, you may want to seek the assistance of an experienced business organizations attorney for legal advice.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified business attorney to help you
navigate the process of starting a business.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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